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I'm looking to get to AK in the next couple years. Was really wanting to do moose DIY but after a few calls to some folks its looking like that will be a little out of our budget. Most of the drop camps are around $6k, then flights up there, getting meat back, incidentals...it starts to get into that 9$k-10$k world all in. So I thought maybe we could try caribou, or sitka deer to get our feet wet. To those of you with personal experience, what do you think? Can a guy do caribou or sitka deer for closer to $4k-$5k? I'm talking all in. Assuming about $800 for ticket from the lower 48. All other costs including an extra day or two stay for weather, and getting meat/ horns back home. What have you guys done it for? Is there another option I should be looking at? Thanks
In 2016 I did a DIY fly-in moose hunt for $5000 +/- door to door.
There are plenty of ways to save some money with logistics
My 2012 moose trip was 10k including meat transport to lower 48 plus taxidermy . My biggest expense was hiring a transporter to get into the refuge I drew.
Here are some money saving ideas that may help for that ‘Trip of a Lifetime’. There may be certain circumstances that may or may not apply, but for general planning terms, you’ll get the idea.
First, apply for an Alaska Airlines credit card. Upon approval, you get 25,000 miles to use. And you’ll get ½ off a companion fare. Next, you will need to call a transporter in November/December [or earlier] for the following September. Some only take returning customers first, then what’s leftover you get.
Let's say your hunt is out of Delta Junction AK.
One month before your arrival to Delta Junction, send any boxes of gear addressed to your name General Delivery to the Palmer AK Post Office [you will be driving right by there].They will hold your boxes for a month. Just show them your identification and off you go. [In each box make a pre-made return addressed card you can just tape on the box when you leave.] Determine when your moose hunting season ends. [This unit ends on September 15th]. You will want to hunt the last 7-8 days of that [very similar to hunting the elk rut]. That means you will leave Delta Junction on September 6th on the plane. Since you can’t hunt the same day as you fly, schedule your fight early in the day if possible. That gives you time to set up camp and prepare to hunt the following day, September 7th.
Let’s create my travel/hunt scenario: The hunt will be an 8 day, fly-in moose hunt out of Delta Junction – Unit 20D Remainder Any Bull Tag – General Season. Approximate driving distance from Anchorage – 330 miles.
Rent a mini-van for the duration of your trip. They have enough space for your gear and room enough to sleep in if necessary or to save some money.
Fly into Anchorage on September 4th – arrival mid-day. Get your rental van and drive up to Palmer and get any other items needed for your hunt [like 2 coolers each]. Go to the Post Office and get your gear you shipped [read more below]. Drive to Delta Junction later that day or early on September 5th. Spend that night in a Delta Junction motel or in the rental van.
Now to back up a little. If I were to do it again, I would PURCHASE a One-Way ticket to Anchorage, and NOT use any of my air miles yet. Since many circumstance beyond our control happen in Alaska, weather for instance, I want to save my air miles for my return trip that, at this time, is not scheduled. It’s cheaper this way than to change your ticket and return any un-used miles and more convenient.
Back to the hunt. Let’s assume you are going out in a SuperCub. That means you will have to pack accordingly to your pilots advice. Food, shelter, tarps and all the misc. gear is up to you. But it won’t be much!
On day 5 of your hunt, you shoot a moose. Your buddy may or may not have a tag, but from my experiences, one moose is plenty to pack out and split between the two of you. Remember, it’s about the EXPERIENCE, not the kill… !!! The moose is back at camp and you contact your pilot and he comes and gets you in the next day or so.
Back in Delta Junction, you pack up your mini-van with gear and the moose meat you want to take home [in the coolers] and donate any amount to the locals if you want. Grocery stores have dry ice so that is very useful in getting the meat cooled down or even froze.
Depending on your travel times, call Alaska Airlines and make your return trip plans, using your available miles. You may need to kill some time in Alaska, you can do that in Delta Junction or closer to Anchorage [Palmer area], but it’s a great time to prepare your moose rack for shipping. You can add it on as baggage for $75 as long it’s not over 177cubic inches, or send it thru Alaska Air Cargo for $150. Also plan on shipping back your boxes of gear.
Coolers can be sent as baggage also. Meat needs to be in plastic bags and the cooler all taped up. $75 per cooler if under 50lbs. More for up to 100lbs. See Alaska Airlines for specifics.
Let’s put some approximate numbers to the above situation.
Going: Airfare One-Way Anchorage - $400 Extra Baggage $150 Hunting License - $170  Moose Locking Tag - $800  Ship Gear USPS - $60/box  $120 Rental Car - $400 Motel - $120 Food - $50 Air Taxi - $1000/person Air Taxi - $1000/moose TOTAL - $4,210
Return: Motel - $120 Food - $50 Airfare - $0 Baggage Fees - $300 Ship Gear USPS - $120 TOTAL - $590
Grand Total Cost = $4800
Some of the above costs can be shared with your buddy – Rental car, shipping gear, moose transport, motel – but I’ll let you work that out….
There you have it. A ‘Trip of a Lifetime’ all planned out…
Cnelk, you should get a tax write off for all the jobs you just created. I can hear the phones ringing now at the offices of everyone from Alaska Airlines to the transporters.
I go every year for moose. Fly to Fairbanks. 2 hotel nights on each end. Car rental each end. Super Cub flight. Sat phone rental. The usual incidentals like restaurants, gas, etc. I'll come in right around $5000 with the higher license and tag costs. That's before killing a moose and paying for transport from camp, meat processing, shipping or flying meat home, costs of taxidermy or flying home with antlers, cape, etc.
cnelk = You sir, are a true Gentleman. Nice advice ...
I was with you, cnelk, all the way up to the $1,000/person air taxi? I have not hunted moose in Alaska, but have done caribou twice with different transporters. My air taxi cost was more than double your quote on both trips. Assuming the moose flights you are referencing must be pretty short flights?
See the 2nd sentence... "There may be certain circumstances that may or may not apply, but for general planning terms, you’ll get the idea."
I never plan to take meat home from Alaska. Saves on money and logistics, plus the locals really appreciate it. The reason being is I generally give away multiple elk deer and antelope anyway between all the animals in the L48 we get as a family makes no sense to transport meat. I’ll eat what I can while hunting then donate. Maybe a tenderloin in a carry on freezer would be max. Alaska is about the experience to me.
Donate some of the meat... Split the horns for shipping... Don’t do a drop camp, have a lean camp that you bring up with you... Don’t do a shoulder mount... Don’t get several nights in a hotel...
Tons of way to shave money off this trip. I’m going this fall for about $3k all in. That’s from Anchorage though. NR would cost $5k ish to do the trip I’m going on.
With an expensive round-trip flight from Billings Montana to Kodiak; hunting license, 3 deer tags, motel room, rental vehicle and bush flight, it was right around $4k each with a buddy. Deer meat was donated. We boxed our own heads and shipped them home.
I can’t imagine killing a moose and leaving the meat. That would make me question my motivations for hunting them. I drove 100% of my Montana moose meat home solo for 36 hrs. I realize Alaska is a different monster, but if I ever hunt Alaska, the cost of meat transportation will be factored in and most likely one of the larger expenses.
I know three friends that have done this from the Northeast in the last two years. They all where well well north of the prices being posted here. They did both drop camps and floats. And none came in under 7k all in after getting meat home and all incidentals.
A couple of us from bowsite are dropping in for a 2019 caribou hunt and seeing the cost of super cub flights alone I will be very surprised if we can do under 6k all in after it’s all said and done.
These are 2012 numbers but 2 hunters from Ohio. 11 days in camp, two bulls taken. Took a couple hundred lbs of meat home and donated the rest. 2 European heads shipped home for under $5000 each. We could have saved a few hundred each by flying the heads home with us were it not for bad info from the airline.
If Alaska is like northern Canada flight costs have changed considerably in recent years. Getting into far remote places is no cheap endeavour.
Cnelk- I gotta say, the effort and time you put into that post is above and beyond. That is priceless information. Incredible! Thank you so much. Pm sent.
Ron-Pm sent Tembry-Pm sent
Thanks everyone. I'm revived. This is doable for $5k-$6k. I'm gonna have more questions but I'm jumping in head first. Love Bowsite for this exact thing. You guys are the best. Keep it coming. I truly appreciate it.
IMO, if using an air taxi, you "might" be able to hunt moose in the $5k-$6k range (assuming you have your own equipment...and a fly in hunt in Alaska is no place to skimp on equipment). If you kill a moose, it will definitely add to your total trip cost. The more meat you keep....the higher the cost. Even if you donate the majority of the meat, it still costs to fly the moose back to civilization.
The flat truth is that it WILL cost considerable money to fly moose meat and head from camp to town...and then get it from AK to your home. If you have any meat processing or taxidermy prep done, add more hundreds of dollars. A dead bull can cost you a minimum of $500 and up to $2K all in. Me...I'm hunting for meat as much as antler. I'm bringing as much of that wonderful moose meat home as I can...at least 400 pounds of it. I would sooner give up my antlers than my meat from a prime bull. Don't go there without understanding the extra significant costs of filling your tag. Budget for it.
Ive already mentioned to Kevin Dill that I read and re-read all of his Alaska experiences and I built my trip based of some of his information, because its great stuff.
FWIW - my pilot charged $800/person and $800/moose. I gave him about 60lbs of meat and a $300 tip.
Plan for unexpected expenses. While we were back in the bush, my buddy's relative [that he also hunts moose with] drowned while crossing a stream with his argo on his way moose hunting. We didnt know that until we were extracted. That caused some serious alterations to plans.
Without going into a lot of detail, I had to changed my flight plans, leave my moose meat for processing with my buddy, bring 100lbs of moose meat that my buddy had frozen already, ship my moose rack back....
The above technique above is what I 'kinda' did and what I 'will' do next time as I learned what to do and what not to do on the fly.
BTW - here is what a 60" Alaska bull rack looks like as it gets dropped on your driveway for $1000. Next time I would def split the skull, wrap it up and ship it as baggage for $150
There are many logistics to work thru for a hunt like this. And many ways to shave some $$$ here and there
cnelk has this pegged for sure.
It's only natural that most first-timers look almost exclusively at the costs of getting there and actually hunting. More than one guy has been financially traumatized when they killed a big bull and didn't understand the full costs of dealing with it. I figure an accurate arrow is going to cost me a minimum of $1500 extra and that's with no taxidermy beyond basic prep to ship. It's not unheard of to burn $2000 or more dealing with meat and head (on skull) all the way home.
Part of my previous post was meant to convey that (for me) I place the greatest importance on caring for the meat and getting it home properly. If it comes down to antlers or meat, I'll leave the antlers up there and make arrangements for later shipping south.
I've been a little lame getting my commercial flight lined up for this year. I just found a good round trip itinerary from Ohio to Fairbanks for $631 all included. That's pretty reasonable.
If you like to eat meat, and can stomach the up front costs, there is no reason not to keep the meat if the costs are as stated above. If it costs $1500-$2,000 to bring meat home, you're talking about $3-$4/pound. What would beef cost you? Is beef as healthy? Moose meat is tremendous. Very very good meat. Even for the cost, it is worth it to bring home. My brother and I drove to where we flew in Manitoba, and we took everything. Neck, ribs, everything. It's so good, and I'm so thankful for the opportunity to bring all that home. On my Manitoba bull I weighed the pieces of meat on a scale. I weighed the quarters with hair on and bone in. Neck, straps, t-loins etc were just meat. My weights were, 120lbs for hind, 100lbs for front, 50lbs neck, 45lbs backstraps, did not weight tenderloins or ribs. Right there I'm guessing that's 450 lbs of meat free and clear plus ribs and tenderloins? Alaska moose are even bigger? Not saying anything against those that donate it, but it's fantastic healthy table fare, and if you know how to fillet a fish, you can do the meat prep at home if you want. So even at the $/lb I think it's most likely great value to bring the meat home.
I know you know your stuff. Loved all of your threads about the hunts you've done. That's the truthful information I'm looking for. Making sure I'm prepared for ALL of the costs and know what my options are regarding getting the meat/horns back. Thanks again guys. I've sent a few Pms and will be sending some more.
Moose meat is great table fare for sure...
But let's do some math. Let's say you bring back 500lbs of moose meat. That would mean you eat 1.37lbs / day for a year, or .68lb / day for 2 years.
Not sure about the rest of you, but I also have vension, elk, antelope, et al meat in the freezer too. Thats why donating/gifting some meat - either before or after you get home - isnt out of the ordinary.
Brad, you know you always have an outlet for moose meat gifting! :-)
Matt you can drive to Prince Rupert BC and catch a Ferry to POW and hunt Sitkas for about $1500. and hunt off the road system. I did it for years
cnelk I think I am very good at planning. You took it to a new level.
I saved your entire post in my AK notes.
Also diy AK moose under $5k with good chance at success even with a gun is extremely difficult for $5k or less without one heck of a great contact for a cheap flight service.
This service seems like a good option for getting your game out of Alaska as well. https://www.alaskaexpresstrucking.com/
IN 2017, I flew everything home as checked baggage. There were: 2 standard bags, 5-100lbs boxes of frozen moose meat, and an unsplit 61 inch moose rack. It cost me $500 on Alaska Airlines.
Ron, just starting to look into a deer hunt on Kodiak. Who did you use for a transporter?
I think I answered your post on the com forum, but my last trip up there was a fly-in lodge. They run you around from camp on a boat or you can just hike out from camp. They aren't guides. 4 of us in camp. Never saw another person, warm dry bed and hot meals, and just a bow and a duffel bag flying up. They are $3200 this year for a week and includes the float plane from Kodiak. Had a great time and we brought back plenty of deer and fish. Not true DIY but lots of time to hunt when not messing with cooking and camp chores. A warm bed when the snow hit was OK too :^)
jmail20 - I used Andrew Air. There are several outfits to choose from and all good.
You won’t go wrong on Kodiak with Andrews, Island, or Seahawk, all Great transporters. I use Island and see them as friends.
I understand wanting to keep an entire moose, I also understand wanting to moose hunt for the adventure and keeping some meat but being okay with locals eating the rest. Just take great care of all the meat and get it out of the field is the main thing. From there is a personal call.
The locals in Illiamnia only wanted the choice cuts of the caribou we got. Pretty expensive to transport shank and the "meat" between the ribs to the L48. There is a processor in Anchorage that will turn it into sausage, salami etc and send it to you.
You could read fifty magazines articles, watch twenty years of TV, and research your azz off and not get this kind of information. Cnelk you rocked it. This is BOWSITE!!!
screamin6x6....I used them in 2014, and they were great to deal with, but I’ve heard they are not making a run this year. Check with Charlie on that to make sure though. (920) 655-4713
The figure posted by cnelk are very accurate.I did it 3 years ago.If your thinking about doing it,DO IT!!!!!Alaska is an incredible place,and seeing the moose is unreal,actual size.I've done a moose,a caribou and a blacktail trips to Ak.I don't regret a single penny spent.Still need to go back and hunt Kodiak Island.Hoping my son gets stationed out there and we can hunt goats,sheep and grizzly together But if your dreaming of hunting moose,you HAVE TO hunt them in Alaska.The adventure alone is worth the price of admission
My last Alaska DIY moose hunt was $2500 door to door from Minnesota...and if that tells you anything it's a clear indication it's been way too long ago and I need to get back there and do it again! (1997 out of Talkeetna)
What are flight costs like in Alaska? Northern MB is like $16/mile so if you fly 70 miles you're looking at $4500 on dedicated flights. 140 miles is $9,000 and so on.